The Berlin Consortium for German Studies was founded with the aim of contributing to German-American understanding at the university level. Since it was founded, almost 700 undergraduate students from participating elite universities in the United States and about 140 students from Freie Universität have participated in the academically challenging program annually. Since 2007, Freie Universität has been one of the German Universities of Excellence.
The students participating in the program appreciate the opportunity to acquire German language skills and to broaden their academic horizons. Many participants point out that through this program they gained a new perspective on America, on its culture, and its influence on people of another continent.
According to the director of the Berlin Consortium, Carmen Müller, who has been running the program since it was started, that is what the program is all about: gaining German language skills and increasing students' knowledge and intercultural competence by being fully integrated in German university courses, living with a German host family during the first month, going on field trips, and experiencing lab work and internships.
"Against this background it is not surprising that students who participated in the program often return to Germany, not only as fellows and interns," says Herbert Grieshop, the director of the Division of International Affairs at Freie Universität Berlin. Many participants from the first years of the program have long been working successfully as diplomats, business men or women, scientists or scholars, or they are engaged in the cultural sector in Germany. During their entire lives, they continue to be mediators of transatlantic understanding.